This is the fifth installment of the Light and Shadow series. I do not own Code: LYOKO, but the characters of Eva Maverick and Kayla Olson are my creations. Please review.
Milly got up and went to the bathroom in the middle of the night. She pushed the bathroom door open and knew immediately she was not the only one up. One of the showers was running. It was after midnight. Who would be taking a shower at this hour?
There was a hiss over the sound of the shower. "I got it." That sounded like Aelita. "You okay?"
Milly crept closer to the showers. She could hear someone panting heavily.
"Yeah," came the reply. It was Eva Maverick. Milly would know that raspy voice anywhere. "How bad am I?"
"Uh, you're a mess," Aelita answered. "I would feel better if we took you to the nurse."
Take Eva to the nurse? What was going on? Milly could smell a scoop!
"Not at this hour," Eva said. "It would raise too many questions." She groaned. "And I have too much of a headache to think up a convincing story."
"We should at least tell Kayla," Aelita said. "This looks bad."
"Head wounds always bleed a lot," Eva told Aelita. "I'm more worried about my leg."
There was some shuffling. "It doesn't look too bad," Aelita said. "It didn't blister." She sighed. "You were lucky."
Blood? Blister? Milly inched closer to the showers. She wanted to see Eva.
"I know for a fact it would have been much worse if I hadn't brought Bon Ami with me," Eva was saying. She grunted. "Easy, Aelita."
"Sorry," Aelita responded. "Did you get everything out now?"
Milly couldn't hear Eva's answer. Perhaps she only gestured to Aelita. The water turned off.
"What about Bon Ami?" Aelita asked. "Where is he?"
"My room," Eva replied. "He took a chunk out of that creep's leg. He's such a smart dog."
"You saved his life," Aelita said. "He'll save yours. Dogs are very loyal. Look at Odd and Kiwi."
Eva chuckled. "You're right." She grunted again. "Help me back to my room."
Milly hurried to a toilet stall. She peeked through the gap in the stall door. She saw Aelita in her nightshirt supporting Eva. Eva was limping, her hair was wet and there was a bandana wrapped around her head, and she was still wearing her street clothes. Where had she been?
"You'll sleep in my room," said Aelita. "I need to keep an eye on you. You could be concussed!"
"I'm not concussed," Eva said. "I would know if I was. I've taken harder hits."
Aelita sighed. "I'll get Bon Ami once I get you in bed. He'll stay quiet, right? I don't want him waking everyone up."
"Yeah, he'll be quiet," said Eva. "He barely barks for anything."
Aelita and Eva left the bathroom. Milly stayed where she was for a minute in case they came back. She went over to the shower stall they were using. There was bright red mixed with the clear water. Was that blood? There was a trash can moved into the shower area. Milly moved some used tissues aside and found paper towels stained with blood. There were also several bloody glass fragments that appeared to belong to a bottle. What was going on?
The next morning, Milly got up and quickly got dressed.
"What's the hurry, Milly?" asked Tamiya.
Milly grinned. "A super scoop!" she answered with a wink.
"A super scoop?" asked Tamiya. "On what?"
"Not what," Milly answered. "Who! Eva Maverick and Aelita Stones. I found them in the bathroom last night and heard them talking. Eva's been sneaking out at night and last night she got hurt. I found pieces of glass and bloody paper towels in the waste basket."
Tamiya sucked in a breath. "I don't think this is such a good idea," she said. "Eva Maverick is scary. I don't want to cross her."
"Calm down," said Milly, adjusting her scarf. "We'll just do a little investigating. Once we have enough, we'll go tell Jim."
The two young reporters dashed outside to get to breakfast. Eva and Aelita were already in the cafeteria with their other friends. Eva looked like her perfectly normal self: disconnected and secretive. The others were giving her varying looks of concern, admiration, and relief.
"So everything's out now?" Ulrich asked Eva.
"Yes," replied Eva, taking a small bite of her eggs. "It's all moved into my room. I have boxes of stuff stacked everywhere. I'm going to need some help sorting."
"What about your injuries?" Jeremy asked.
"They're fine." Eva scanned the cafeteria. "I still have a massive headache, but it's better than what it was. My leg may give me trouble at gym class."
"I wish you had some aloe vera gel in your first aid kit," Aelita said. "It would have taken the sting out of your burn."
"You got burned, too?" Odd asked loudly.
"Shh!" they hissed at him.
"Keep it down," Eva said in a low, dark voice, looking out of the corner of her eye. "We have a couple of spies listening in."
The others turned to where Eva was looking. They saw Milly and Tamiya quickly look away from them and at their breakfast.
Eva sighed. "I thought I sensed someone lurking in the bathroom last night," she murmured. "I just thought I was being paranoid."
"Milly and Tamiya?" asked Aelita.
Eva nodded and grimaced. Moving her head made it throb. She reached up and touched the side of her head. Aelita had carefully braided several thin strands to hold together a gash in her scalp. The other layers of Eva's hair masked the tiny braids. "Only one of them, probably Milly. She's the instigator. I don't think Tamiya would spy on me. I scare her too much."
"You do have that effect on people," said Odd. He shuffled in his seat. "So tell us already! What happened last night?"
"Not here," said Eva. "At the factory. I'll tell all of you. I don't feel like repeating myself twice." She yawned.
"I know what you mean," Aelita yawned as well. "Both of us were up most of the night. I was too afraid to let Eva fall asleep. I kept shaking her every five minutes to make sure she was awake."
"What about Bon Ami?" asked Jeremy.
"He's in my room," said Aelita.
"I'll take him out when I take Kiwi out," Odd volunteered.
Later that day, after classes were over, Milly followed Eva into the woods. Eva hadn't limped all day, but now she was.
Milly smiled. "You're a great actress, Eva," she whispered to herself. "But you can't fool me."
Eva looked over her shoulder. Milly hid behind a large tree. When she turned around to see where Eva was, she was gone.
"What?" Milly looked around. "Where did she go?"
Eva was skating through the sewers. The others were already at the factory. Eva had waited because she knew that Milly and/or Tamiya would follow her.
At the factory, in the supercomputer room, Eva told the others what happened last night.
"You already know that I went home to get the rest of my things," Eva said while Kayla checked her injuries. "I took Bon Ami with me last night because I had a feeling I would need him. I'm glad I did. Things got rough."
"So what happened?" asked Odd.
"I got there and snuck in through the back window like I've always done. I went around and let Bon Ami in." Eva hissed as Kayla tugged at the braids. "I started packing my final box. Bon Ami was lying on my sister's bed." Eva swallowed hard when she mentioned this. It only took a second for her to continue. "I heard Dad's snoring stop and I knew there was going to be trouble. I finished packing the box and started for the door. Dad was up and moving and saw me. He was drunk, I could tell, and he had a bottle in his hand. He yelled at me, asking where I had been, and whacked me over the head with the bottle. Bon jumped up and bit his leg. There was a struggle and there was something boiling on the stove. The fight moved into the kitchen and one or both of us knocked over the pot and I burned my leg. I grabbed my stuff, called Bon to me, and we ran out of there."
Bon Ami barked once.
"So, it's done," said Kayla, looking relieved.
Eva smiled grimly. "It is. But there are other things I now need to worry about."
"Such as?" asked Yumi.
"Keep a low profile here," Eva replied. "The last thing I need is getting myself in hot water with the teachers. I can keep up the charade of being here with my parents' knowledge, but only for so long. With Milly snooping around now, it's going to be tough."
"Don't worry about it," said Ulrich. "I think I may have a way to help you with that."
Eva nodded. She reached up to touch the gash again and moaned.
"Does it hurt a lot?" asked Kayla.
"Just enough to cause trouble," answered Eva. "Let's go back to school. I need to rest."
They went back to school and Yumi and Kayla, with Bon Ami, went home. Aelita walked Eva to her room. She opened the door and saw what a mess the room was. There were boxes stacked everywhere. Aelita hadn't noticed them last night when she got Bon Ami from her room because it was dark.
"Maybe you should stay in my room," said Aelita, seeing that the bed was cluttered. "I'll get the boys and we'll sort through things for you."
"You don't have to, Aelita," said Eva. "I can do it later."
"I insist," Aelita said, pulling on Eva's arm and leading her back to her room.
With Eva in her room, Aelita got Ulrich and Odd to come up to help her. They set to work unpacking boxes. Most of it was old clothes, but there were other things as well: a collapsible metal table, an electric kettle, mugs and silverware, and packets of instant hot cocoa mix and tea.
"All she's missing are the cookies and we'd be set for high tea," Odd commented. "I hope she has a plan when there is a surprise inspection. We're not allowed to have electric kettles."
"I feel a little weird about going through her clothes," said Ulrich, gingerly lifting a few dark shirts from a box.
"Well, if you find something that you're not comfortable handling, I'll do it," said Aelita, opening another box. "Oh!"
"What?" asked Odd.
Ulrich put down the shirts.
Aelita put a hand to her mouth. "They're photographs of her and Mackenzie," she answered, taking a silver picture frame from the box. Eva and Mackenzie were sitting on a wall in their Easter best. The photograph must have been from four years ago. Eva looked so much younger with the huge grin on her face.
"They look so happy," said Ulrich.
"Mackenzie looks like a doll," Odd chuckled.
"She's really pretty," said Ulrich.
Odd gave Ulrich a wry smile. "Better not let Yumi hear that."
"What?" Ulrich glared. "She's not my girlfriend."
The three of them stared at the photograph for another moment.
"It's sad what happened," Aelita said.
"It should have never happened," said Odd.
Ulrich turned away to continue unpacking. "What's done is done. I don't like it, either, but there's nothing we can do to bring her back."
Odd looked in the box. "Check this out," he said. He pulled out a small notebook.
"I don't think we should be looking at that, Odd," said Aelita. "It could be her diary."
"Eva doesn't strike me as a person who keeps a diary," said Ulrich.
"We didn't think you did, either, Ulrich," smiled Odd. He flipped it open. "It's poetry."
Aelita and Ulrich gathered around Odd so they could read it.
I am not afraid
to play a masquerade
that threatens to escalate
into an escapade.
They think I've cracked
turned into a maniac
wishing I would turn back
but what I wish for is this picture to fade to black.
I cannot afford to fear
what things may appear
but if the truth comes too near
I will run and disappear.
I won't let them see my torment
won't let them see me lament
never allow them the wonderment
that is my embarrassment.
I was wrong
I wasn't strong
here the pain belongs
the suffering prolong.
Gone is yesterday
need to go away
today's a new day
time to go on my way.
"She's amazing," said Odd. "I can't even get two lines to rhyme and she writes this!"
"There's a lot of pain in those words," said Aelita.
Odd flipped a few more pages, looking for a lighter poem. "Check this one out."
Ulrich and Aelita gathered around again to see what the next poem said.
Here comes the trickster elf, do you hear his footsteps?
You may not because he is not always what you suspect
Beware for he deceives with ease — only after do you know
When you look upon the world in retrospect and reflect
Sometimes he is a fair maid or handsome prince
Other times he's an animal or an unsuspicious object
He plays games with the unsuspecting souls who cross him
And now and then grants wishes to the ones he does respect
"The trickster elf?" asked Ulrich.
Aelita suddenly burst into a fit of giggles. "She's talking about Puck!" she exclaimed.
"Puck?" asked Odd.
"Remember my doll?" asked Aelita. "He's named after Puck."
"Is there more?" asked Ulrich, reaching to turn the page.
In Aelita's room, Eva lay on the bed looking at the elf doll that she had moved to the floor. There was a hole in its chest and the stuffing was coming out. She couldn't help but remember a poem she made as a bedtime story for Mackenzie.
". . .So be kind to those you come across for you cannot know for certain / if the trickster elf is among them, show no one any disrespect. / One day you may be kind to him and he will be in your debt / and in the future you will need help and he'll give it to you if in a way you don't expect."
Eva smiled in remembrance and closed her eyes.
Now all of old the ties are severed, so what is next? Will life begin anew, or will old habits continue? Keep reading an find out. Review!